Say goodbye to weekly trivia nights, food truck Fridays and Eagles on the TV at your local craft brewery.
A new ruling issued by the state cracks down on what brewery owners will be allowed to do and now requires them to obtain special permits from the state — a decision that the craft beer supporters in New Jersey say will severely set back the burgeoning industry. However, restaurant and bar advocates say the rules will put brewery owners more in line with others in the alcohol industry.
The “special ruling” issued Monday by the New Jersey Division of Alcohol Beverage Control will affect the 88 limited breweries that are now operating in the state — many of which have opened since the state relaxed some of its laws in 2012 — as well as the 23 operations who have applications pending.
David Rible, director of the ABC, said in his ruling that the new regulations are an attempt to clear up confusion over “what constitutes permissible activities that may take place on a licensed premises, particularly in the tasting rooms of the limited breweries.”
“Although it is clear that a tasting room at a limited brewery is not a new consumption venue with the same privileges as a Class C plenary retail consumption licensee, it is also evident that a brewery has limited retail privileges granted by the Legislature.”
Some of the changes breweries are facing include the following:
- Breweries can now only hold 25 “special events,” such as paint and sip nights, trivia nights, live televised sporting events and live music nights.
- Breweries are limited to 12 special permits a year to sell products off the brewery premises such as festivals, athletic events, and other civic events.
- Breweries are limited to 52 private parties (birthdays, weddings, anniversaries) a year.
- They must electronically notify the ABC 10 days prior to holding the event
The breweries did gain the ability to sell items such as water, soda, pre-packaged crackers, chips, nuts and other similar snacks.
Customers can still bring in their own food, but the brewery can no longer have restaurant menus available, or coordinate with other vendors, such as food trucks, to provide food.
Rible added the special ruling is on a “temporary pilot basis” and the information garnered through the pilot will be used to create official regulations.
Eric Orlando, the executive director of the Brewers Guild of New Jersey, said he has been receiving mixed reactions from group members — some of it, positive since some new rights were granted to brewery operators, like having snacks and off-premise events.
“But then there is also reaction on the amount of events you can host,” Orlando said. “The fact there will be set limits on how many private events, how many special events, and what you can’t do in the brewery. People are still trying to get up to speed on what’s allowed and how they can employ the new rights they have.